The power of Hamilton’s coffeehouses


History has shown that there’s nothing like having a good chat over a cup of coffee.  Not only is the drink itself pretty universally appreciated, there are also hundreds of years worth of evidence to say that hanging out in a coffee shop is one of the best ways to spread ideas.

The power of coffee shops has proven itself through history.  Take the seventeenth century, for example. England discovered coffee around then, and the first true coffeehouse was  set up in Oxford. From here, the trend spread, and so did the ideas. People discussed things–real issues, like law, philosophy, or justice. They were able to share news and discuss its implications. The coffeehouse served as a popular alternative to pubs, and became the cradle of the Enlightenment.  In eighteenth century London, people used to refer to them as “penny universities,” since you could pay just a cent to get in to have access to such a wide range of information and opinions.

This kind of organization doesn’t really exist in the same way today. With the technology we have now, there are other ways of getting news that don’t require meeting in person. But that doesn’t mean coffeehouses have no place. Now their political affiliations may be secondary to the main goal of actually selling coffee and food, but they are often still a reflection of the culture of a city.

In June, the Spec reported on the politics of coffee shops in Hamilton. According to them, we’re really embracing this homegrown movement, and it’s a good sign for a city that sometimes gets overlooked for being a “Steel City” or “the armpit of Ontario.”

Coffee is just one way Hamilton is showing its vitality; there are of course lots of other indications that the city is improving. People around the area are starting to recognize that the Steel City has something to offer (like in this article from The Grid about Torontonians moving here). And if you take a look around, I think you’ll see what they mean.

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